About Unicoi County

About Unicoi County

The Unicoi County Democratic Party is located in the mist laden mountains of Unicoi County, Tennessee. Unicoi County lies almost wholly in the Unaka Mountain belt, on the border of North Carolina.  

Unicoi County covers 186 square miles, approximately 50 percent is owned by the U.S. government. Unicoi is a Cherokee word meaning “white,” “hazy,” “fog-like,” or “fog draped” which describes the beautiful white mist that often hovers over the mountains. The county’s principal waterway is the Nolichucky River. The river is popular for white water rafting.

Settlers arrived in the county in the late 1770s. The area that is now Unicoi County was part of Washington and Carter counties until March 23, 1875, when the Tennessee General Assembly created the new county.

Unicoi County experienced rapid growth when railroad construction began in 1886. In 1897 a U.S. Fish Hatchery was established in Unicoi County and celebrated one hundred years of continuous operation in 1997. The original superintendent’s house has been converted to a county Heritage Museum containing memorabilia enjoyed by local residents and tourists.

The railroad remained the major employer until 1916 when Southern Potteries opened in Erwin. Peak employment reached more than one thousand during the 1940s. After World War II, slow imports brought an end in production, and the plant closed in 1957. Hand-painted dinnerware from Southern Potteries remains valuable today.

Just as the Southern Pottery closed, Davison Chemical Company (now Nuclear Fuel Services; a subsidiary of Babcock & Wilcox) located in Erwin. The plant is now the major supplier of fuel for the U.S. Navy. Other industries have come and gone throughout the years.


Unicoi County is surrounded by beautiful mountains and scenic beauty. It is an environmentalist and hikers heaven, laden with trails and waterfalls.

The population of Unicoi County was 18, 313 in 2010. The county seat is Erwin. The county is still known for quality moon shine, apple and strawberry crops and beautiful parks. The county attracts many hikers traveling the Appalachian trail. Fishing, hunting, and camping are also popular activities that attracts visitors.